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125th Anniversary

125th anniversary

Since its founding in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students, DSU has:

  • Grown from a dozen students in its first year to a diverse campus of 4,500-plus today.
  • Increased its offerings from five bachelor’s degree options to a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
  • Operated two secondary schools on campus – from the 1920s-1952, the second high school for black youths in Delaware, and today, the Early College High School.
  • Benefited from the leadership of 10 presidents, including Dr. Jerome Holland, who navigated the institution through instability in the 1950s with the promise of future prosperity, and it continues today with President Harry L. Williams.
  • Become an active member of the scientific, solution-seeking research community, with $25 million in federal research grants since 2010 and the opening of the state-of-the-art Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) Building last year.
  • Expanded its presence abroad with institutional partnerships in China, Ghana, South Korea, South Africa, Vietnam and more.
  • Earned recognition as the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ 1890 University of the Year twice in recent years.
  • Focused on academics and innovation in achieving student success, most recently with the support of a $1.2 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

President’s Letter

This year, I hope you’ll join me as we reflect upon our 1891 founding as the State College for Colored Students and our 125-year evolution into today’s Delaware State University.

The official start date of the anniversary year is May 15, 2016.

We’re planning a grand celebration with many opportunities throughout the year for the campus community to take part in marking this milestone. For more information on the events and activities, please regularly visit the 125th anniversary website: desu.edu/125.

President Harry L. Williams

Success Stories

During DSU’s 125th anniversary celebration, we are sharing a sampling of success stories from the DSU community of alumni, faculty, staff, and students who made their mark during or following their time on campus.

Nathaniel McQueen
In January of 2013, Nathaniel McQueen, a 2001 graduate of DSU’s Master of Social Work Program (MSW), was named Superintendent of the Delaware State Police becoming the first African American to that position.  Prior to this appointment, he served as a state trooper for 25 years.  Col. McQueen was appointed to be a part of the executive staff of the previous superintendent, Col. Robert Coupe in 2009.  He feels that this was part of Col. Coupe’s succession plan to develop his team.  Col. McQueen plans to continue this practice.  Col. McQueen credits his MSW with preparing him to serve on the many boards and committees that he are required as superintendent as well as working with other state agencies.   

Dr. Michael Wilson
Dr. Michael Wilson earned his Bachelor of Science degree from DSU in Science Education in 1975.  While a student at DSU he served as the Student Government Association President during 1974-75.  After leaving DSU he went on to earn a MS in Biology from Tuskegee Institute (University) and then his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 1986.  Dr. Wilson was the first African-American President of the South Carolina Podiatric Medical Association and was also honored as South Carolina’s Podiatrist of the Year.  Currently he is a podiatrist and surgeon with the Veterans Administration in Winston-Salem, NC.  He credits DSU with providing him the warmth, support and understanding to keep him personally and academically grounded.

William “CJ” Charleton
William “CJ” Charleton graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Airway Science.  Following graduation he joined the Air National Guard.  In 2005, he was hired by Continental Airlines as a pilot and is a first officer piloting international flights on 757 and 767 planes.  He also continues to fly in the Guard as a reserve C-130 pilot.  First Officer Charleton is among the approximately 2% of U.S. airline pilots that are African American.  Through the Organization of Black Airline Pilots (OBAP), Charleton became an instructor at its Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE) Academy.  The goal of the academy is to get children to focus on their future by spotlighting the importance of education and hot it can lead to a fulfilling career.  In 2010 he launched Charleton Camps for Aviation, Science and Technology Training (CCASTT). Currently there are camps in three cities.

Matthew W. Horace
Matthew W. Horace earned a BA in English from Delaware State College (University) in 1985.  Mr. Horace is a 21-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  He became special agent in charge of its newly created Newark, NJ division in early 2008.  In addition Mr. Horace is a certified leadership consultant for FranklinCovey and an accomplished public and motivational speaker.  He credits DSU with starting his professional development and teaching him about making a difference.  Mr. Horace was a 2009 inductee into DSUAA’s for his achievements in government and law.  In 2010 he gave back to DSU by establishing the Horace Foundation Endowment for Criminal Justice Studies in memory of the three DSU students who were shot execution style in Newark.  Since 2012, Mr. Horace has served as Chief Security Officer at FSC Security Service.

Dr. Cherese D. Winstead
 In 1995 Dr. Cherese D. Winstead graduated from DSU earning her BS in Chemistry.  She then went on to earn her masters at Hampton University and PhD at Virginia Tech.  She returned to her alma mater in 2008 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry.  As the fall 2009 Convocation keynote speaker, Dr. Winstead gave contemporary examples of role models and anti-role models.  She chose to focus on the students and topics they were familiar within pop culture, athletics and the mass media.  Since returning to DSU she has established a chapter of the Young Chemist Society.  Currently Dr. Winstead Casson serves as chairperson of the Department of Chemistry.

Dr. Donald Byrd
Dr. Donald Byrd, internationally renowned jazz musician, was an artist-in-residence at DSU from 1996 to 2001 and then returned to DSU in 2001 as a distinguished artist-in-residence and to establish an endowed scholarship fund to benefit music students.  Dr. Byrd conducted master classes and gave lectures on behalf of DSU, participate in performances and serve as an ambassador for DSU.  Byrd has been a professional jazz musician since the 1950s and is known as one of top trumpeters of the jazz hard-bop genre.  In the 1970s to recorded jazz fusion that combined jazz with funk, soul and R&B.  In 2002, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized him as one of its NEA Jazz Masters.  Dr. Byrd died in 2013.

Aaron D. Spears
During his senior year, Aaron D. Spears ’94, was bitten by the acting bug after being required to participate in the Spring 1994 student play as part of an assignment for his Speech class.  Initially success came easy with several roles; however, the roles dried up.  While he was waiting for his break, Mr. Spears used his poetry in the form of spoken-word performance, established Big Mouth Productions, and volunteered for script readings.  Hard work and tenacity paid off when he landed roles in several films and TV shows.   Then in 2009 he landed a regular role on The Bold and the Beautiful.  Mr. Spears states that you have to have mindset that you are going to make in happen, no matter what.  In 2015, Spears returned to his alma mater to serve as master of ceremonies for the President’s Scholarship Ball that year.

Dr. Ulysses S. Washington, Jr.
Dr. Ulysses S. Washington, Jr.’s tenure at Delaware State College began in 1949, as the first chairperson of the Agriculture and Natural Resources department. The nonagenarian credits a grade school agriculture teacher for his pursuit of agriculture education. Dr. Washington led the fight for equitable funding of research programs at 1890 Land-Grant Universities. In 1972, the federal government, through USDA, made that goal a reality when DSU and her sister institutions began receiving sustained funding for 1890 Land Grant programs. Today’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences rests on Dr. Washington’s legacy, and integrates missions of teaching, research and outreach to train future scientists and to extend research-based knowledge to Delawareans.

Dr. Martin Drew
Dr. Martin A. Drew and his family have a multi-generational relationship with Delaware State University.  “There are a number of us who have been at Delaware State,” said Drew.  The Drew family legacy began when Martin’s father, Orlando, sent his younger sister, Loretta Drew Chowdhury, to Delaware State College. She graduated with a degree in Home Economics in 1954. Next in line was Martin, who earned an Elementary English degree from DSC in 1965. His vitae includes secondary education work in New York City, master’s degrees in Education Administration and Philosophy, and a doctorate in Education (Curriculum and Instruction). Since his graduation, Martin, an author and current DSU professor of English, has witnessed 14 additional family members earn degrees from DSU.

Dr. Fatma M. Helmy
Dr. Fatma M. Helmy, DSU professor of biology, founded the DSU Minority Access to Research Careers program and devoted 19 years of time and resources to the success of DSU students. Her mentorship and guidance helped 62 MARC students graduate with science and engineering degrees and gain acceptance to prestigious graduate schools to pursue terminal degrees—a major feat at that time. For her devotion to students, Dr. Helmy received Minority Access Inc.’s Faculty Role Model Award in 2008.

Dr. Christopher Heckscher, Not Your Everyday Firefly
Dr. Christopher Heckscher, environmental science associate professor, became a Delaware State University first with his discovery, research and naming of the new species of firefly, Photuris mysticalampas. Heckscher began teaching full-time at DSU in 2008, but discovered the firefly in 2004 at Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge as the state zoologist for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. His findings were substantiated and published in the July-August 2013 issue of Entomological News. “The discovery was unique because this firefly was found in this region, which has been well studied,” Heckscher said. “I think it’s a great example of how much we still have to learn about our natural world. If a firefly can go undiscovered, how much else are we missing?”

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff
Dr. Hoff has been called the “conscience of Delaware History” for his leading role in projects, studies, and movements which have led to greater attention and appreciation of Delaware history and DSU’s heritage in particular.  In 2004, Dr. Hoff’s study of educational desegregation in Delaware was highlighted at a DSU conference on the topic and now has become standard reference for those seeking to understand the Evans v. Buchanan case and its impact.  Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, Dr. Hoff led the effort to have DSU recognize its historically black heritage in the institution’s mission statement, which was finally revised to include same in 2010.  Finally, as Chair of the Dover Human Relations Commission (DHRC) from 2005-2010, Dr. Hoff authored and advocated for passage of a slavery apology resolution by the Delaware General Assembly.  Originally passed by the DHRC in 2007, the slavery apology was approved by the DHRC again in 2010 and by the Dover City Council as well that year.  Six years later, the Delaware General Assembly passed a slavery apology resolution, which was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell on February 10, 2016.  Dr. Hoff was given the distinction of addressing the Delaware House following passage of the slavery apology resolution, from which he received an earlier tribute for his service. 

Quincy Lucas
On Aug. 27, 2008, DSU alumna Quincy A. Lucas proudly presented the official nomination of Sen. Joseph R. Biden for Vice President during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. She used her platform to stand against domestic violence, citing the 2003 death of her sister, Dr. Witney H. Rose, by her ex-boyfriend. During her speech, Lucas also referenced the 1994 Violence Against Women Act written by Senator Biden. Her appearance led to an invitation to a party where she and her daughter met Mrs. Obama, and subsequent campaign stumping with Sen. Biden on domestic violence. Mrs. Lucas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in primary education in 2004 and a Master of Science degree in education in 2007 at DSU.

The Honorable Wayne Gilchrest
Wayne T. Gilchrest enrolled at Delaware State College to study history after serving in the Vietnam War. Upon graduating in 1973, he taught in Vermont and throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland Eastern Shore, where he still resides. Gilchrest represented his community in Congress from 1991 – 2009. To date, he has been the only graduate of Delaware State University elected to Congress. DSU President Harry L. Williams subsequently tapped Gilchrest to serve on the Blue Ribbon Commission and help his alma mater craft a new vision statement. Gilchrest stays active by teaching environmental policy at Salisbury State University, lobbying Congress on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay, and by working to make Maryland’s Turner Creek a living library for schools and the public.

Dr. William Granville Jr.
Dr. William Granville Jr., a 1962 DSU Alumnus, was featured in the October 2008 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine for his financial advice for young people. He teaches young people about the acquisition and management of wealth, which he said leads to financial freedom. He also advocates that with wealth comes responsibility to give back to the community. Dr. Granville, a former Mobil executive, is the founder and CEO of The Granville Academy, an after-school program that focuses on financial and business education. The program has grown from one location to 10 campuses nationally since its inception in 1983 and serves more than 125 students at each location. Future expansion plans include the establishment of academies in England, Scotland and Africa.

Dr. Reba Hollingsworth
Dr. Reba Hollingsworth was the first in her family to graduate college, earn M.Ed., Ph.D.; a teacher/counselor for 35 years, Hollingsworth was also a counselor/coordinator for overseas study tours; and adjunct professor at La Verne U., Wilmington College, and Delaware State University.  She wrote a guest opinion in Delaware State News - "The NAACP vs the Ku Klux Klan;" edited several books; served on the Title IX Committee; vice chair Delaware Heritage Commission; president of Delaware State Association of Parliamentarians; was member of College Board Scholarship Selection Committee for Outstanding Negro Students; and participated in standardizing the National Counselor Certification Test. With her husband, Dr. Hollingsworth established an endowed scholarship at the Delaware State University Foundation.  She was also Queen Mother of Bretou Clan in Asiakwa, Ghana; and much more.

Dr. Berlin Hollingsworth
Dr. Berlin Hollingsworth was the first in his family to graduate college, earn a MSED, and Ph.D.; a retired visiting teacher, Dr. Hollingsworth was the first manager of the MLK Student center at DSC; Principal/coordinator for European-American Study Tours; conducted Parent and Teacher Effectiveness Training workshops with his wife; participated in standardizing the National Counselor Certification Test; and assisted a lifer's release from a Delaware prison.  Drs. Berlin and Reba Hollingsworth, husband and wife, established an endowed scholarship at the DSU Foundation.  Other services to the community include: life member of NAACP, DSUAA; KAPsi; vice president of Delaware State Association of Parliamentarians; past president Delaware State Visiting Teachers Association; and much more.